By Dr. Henry R. Rivera, Jr., Ph.D., AOCNP, ACNP
Many people might not be familiar with how an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) can help with mental health issues. However, this discipline provides a valuable level of care that has helped people manage their mental health needs for many years.
According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, “psychiatric mental health [PMH] nursing is a specialty within nursing.” Advanced PMHs are Nurse Practitioners who have their master’s or doctorate in psychiatric-mental health nursing. Their study includes extensive work in development, diagnosis, mental and physical health assessment, as well as performing care, which includes psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. They also look at practice evaluation, serving as both a consultant and liaison. However, all Nurse Practitioners can assess and diagnose mental health issues. Their study includes all work mentioned above and, while beneficial, they do not require advanced training to practice in PMH. They are often the first contact an individual may have in primary care and other practice settings that identifies and treats mental health issues.
Here are a four more facts about an ARNP:
Fact #1: Patient treatment
Nurse Practitioners can assess and diagnose patients. They also can treat the patients or families for known psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, they can identify risk factors for many conditions. Nurse Practitioners (NPs, their practice is considered an advanced specialty. With their Ph.D. or EdD degrees, an ARNP can also serve as professors, researchers, and even administrators. The authority enjoyed for their practice is outlined by the state.
Fact #2: Many ARNPs play a significant role in many aspects of treatment and rehabilitation of patients.
From research to working in assisted living and independent living facilities and even to private practice, these mental health professionals serve their patients in a variety of ways. They provide primary care services, which can include prescribing medication and psychotherapy services. They can also perform procedures and handle comprehensive exams. Because of the demand for mental health services, there are abundant opportunities for ARNPs to help patients achieve their best possible wellness.
Fact #3: ARNPs are considered the highest level of specialty for psychiatric nursing.
Unlike other PMHs, ARNPs completed advanced degrees and received medical training outside of what is taught at the general level. The ARNP can get either a master’s, post-master’s or doctoral degree in a nursing specialty, which includes the Psychiatric/Mental Health field. It is this expanded study and added training that allows ARNPs to take on more responsibility, which in some states is equivalent to a physician. This responsibility can include prescribing medication, which is different than a registered nurse (RN) or a PMH, who cannot. In many ways, ARNPs are helping the medical community serve the demand for both primary and specialized health care providers, particularly in underserved areas, which are often rural areas.
Fact #4: ARNPs can specialize.
They can provide mental health promotion, diagnosis, and treatment across the lifespan or can choose to specialize on a certain life-stage. Some want to focus on teens and adolescents while other choose instead to concentrate on the senior patient population. ARNPs can also decide to focus on the consultation-liaison role, meaning they make available both consultation and services to patients and their families when multiple mental and physical health conditions exist. Still, other ARNPs specialize in shared and complementary health care tasks with a primary care doctor.
There are numerous ways that an ARNP can help you achieve your best wellness for mental health. For many patients, an ARNP can be a fantastic, comprehensive solution to concerns they might have for themselves or someone they love.
If you have questions about how an ARNP or the services at Achieve Wellness Group might help you, please contact us.
Dr. Henry R. Rivera, Jr., Ph.D., AOCNP, ACNP, holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Health Services Administration, from Ithaca College and in Nursing from Elmira College. He has a Master’s Degree in Health Systems Leadership and Nursing Informatics, Post Master’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner Certificate and Doctorate in Nursing from the University of South Florida. He holds two national nurse practitioner certifications and has published several articles. Dr. Rivera has worked as a Nurse Practitioner in several medical specialties in Primary Care. Dr. Rivera has worked for the last 5 years in adult and geriatric primary care in Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living and Independent Living facilities. He is responsible for the evaluation and medical treatment of psychiatric conditions, including dementia, in these facilities. Dr. Rivera serves as both a consultant who advises primary care providers on appropriate medications and as a clinician who prescribes and manages medications. Dr. Rivera consults with primary care providers, nurses, facility staff and family in treating patients.